A/n: I don't know if this is the best story I have ever written, or if this is a justifiable conclusion, but it is one of the longest for only six chapters. So, after a very long time, I introduce you to the final chapter. Don't forget to leave a comment at the end so I know how I did!
My other stories will be updated as time allows. College really eats up all of your time.
Thanks to everyone who followed/favorited/reviewed this story. It's not exactly the style I usually write in, but I am happy to have it complete.
Also for anyone who watches it, as time allows I'm going to produce some Once Upon a Time fanfictions coming out soon. I like a lot of the couples there, so it should be fairly diverse.
He was watching her again. Despite himself he always found his eyes following her form across the shop, restaurant, meeting, wherever their paths happened to cross. He only wished it happened more often.
She was with the twit again, looking bored but playing the role of a happy girlfriend. He knew that look on her face though, the look of utter disdain.
Well, maybe he was imagining that look. Draco certainly liked to believe though that it was a look of disdain that passed over her face whenever she went out with Oliver Wood. They had been trying out a relationship for the past five months since they ended their physical relationship together, and Draco had been keeping tabs on each date they went on.
Not in a stalker type of way- he just couldn't ignore her. Something in his heart hurt each time she passed by with the dolt, but she never once glanced his way. He liked to believe that she was hurting too.
"You're staring again Draco."
The blond scowled, glancing at his Italian friend. Blaise knew what had transpired between he and Granger, and he also knew of the fallout.
"She isn't staring back you know."
"She never is," he grumbled, flipping the box of cigarettes in his hand. He'd been trying to quit since his break up with Hermione, but thus far he hadn't been successful.
"Sometimes she looks this way," Blaise continues, mulling over his own words, "When she thinks you aren't looking."
"I'm always looking."
"Not true, sometimes I annoy you and you glance this way. It's rare, but I think she's secretly watching you too. She only ever looks in your direction when she knows you aren't looking. Like just now for instance."
Grey eyes danced back to the pretty brunette, noting that she was again engrossed in Wood instead of him. He groaned, wondering when his interest in her would cease. They made it very clear some time ago that they would never be a couple.
Actually, he made it very clear. He couldn't give her what she wanted when he needed to, and now he couldn't have her. Life was cruel that way.
At least she hadn't gone back to Theo. It would be a mistake on her part to return to the man who was so rude and disrespectful to her, but it would also forever be a thorn in his side if she did that right after ending her relationship with him. Thankfully, Theo got even less attention than he did. Draco knew for a fact that she never spared him a second glance. He just happened to constantly miss all the glances she threw his way.
"So are you done watching Granger for the day?" Blaise pressed, watching his friend. "I would really like to move on to the store. We came to Diagon Alley for one bloody thing, one quick errand and we've been here for ages now. We haven't even gotten to the Quidditch shop."
"Fine, let's go," he snapped, standing. Draco knew he was keeping Blaise, but every chance he got to be even near Hermione he took. It was only after he let her go that he realized all of the things he really loved about her. Beneath all of his former apprehension he knew he had wanted to be with her, maybe even to make her the one. But he waited too long, pushed her back into purely sexual situations all of the time, and he didn't open up to her. He let Hermione Granger slip through his fingers.
The pair passed by Hermione and Oliver as they headed towards their destination, the brunette pausing long enough to really watch Draco. He didn't dare look at her, afraid that he might say something he would regret again. Instead he walked stoically past her, forcing himself to remain expressionless until long after they passed the duo.
"You didn't break down and punch Wood in the face," Blaise mused as they continued on their way. "I'm moderately impressed Draco."
He wasn't impressed at all with himself, however. Yet another great opportunity had presented itself and again he passed it up. He could have looked at Hermione as he passed. He could have sent her a smoldering look that would make her wonder until she finally confronted him about it. Hell, he could have punched Oliver like Blaise said and it would've made a very clear statement that his feelings for Hermione remained. But he did nothing once again, passing by the brunette woman as he tried his hardest to not turn back.
She was learning to be happy with someone else. Their relationship was complicated and layered with misfortune and possible disaster. He wouldn't take her out of a safe relationship to place her into the chaotic one they would have together.
Draco almost felt like he couldn't do anything. He lost Hermione once, and nothing he could come up with seemed good enough to win her back.
He'd gone to lunch that day, deciding that he needed a break from the office. He had been purging himself in work for weeks now, and if his bloody assistant interrupted him with unrelated news one more time he might just shrink her into something he could hide. Instead of chancing that possibility, he relented and went to a quiet café to read over some papers.
Two cups of coffee were placed in front of the blond and he glanced up to see who was daring to disturb him. His mouth went dry when he noted the pretty brown locks and totally kissable lips.
"I hear you're straining yourself," she mused, sitting across from the man. "Blaise bumped into me and said you've been a right grouch for a good while now. Maybe you should invest in more coffee."
Draco accepted the beverage, all the while in awe that she sat down across from him. This was the first real conversation they had shared together since he walked out of her life. He expected her to continue avoiding him actually. He did twist her feelings into one big, messy knot just to throw them away.
He cleared his throat finally, realizing she was sitting there waiting for a response. "Coffee won't do the trick. Besides, I've had far too much of it lately."
"That doesn't surprise me," Hermione continued, using her straw to stir the beverage beside her. "I don't quite thing I've seen you act like yourself in a long time now."
"Since I left you," he grumbled.
The words weren't really supposed to slip out of his lips, but they did and he couldn't save himself once they had. Her head quipped to the side, eyebrows drawing together as she mulled over her words. He lifted the hot cup to his lips, downing the burning liquid to keep himself from saying anything else that might get him in trouble.
"You're still on that," she replied quietly, glancing away from the blond. He wasn't sure what was meant by the sudden gleam in her eyes, but he supposed she was trying to keep it a secret. "I had figured you would move on long before now."
"I've been having a bit of a hard time with that."
He knew what the second word was to that phrase, the word she seemed very keen on not saying. She was going to admit that she also had a hard time getting over their former relationship and all the things they left unsaid. But she didn't add the 'too' to the end of her sentence, and instead let the word hang in the air between them like all their lost memories.
Draco wished she would say it. He could see it now, in the way she fidgeted and shifted across the table from him. Her body language spoke volumes; she missed him, and she was doing everything possible to avoid eye contact. Hermione was a strong individual, and she would never return to a situation she didn't think she could handle. And if he was too much work for her, he was a situation she couldn't handle.
If only she knew how he felt now. But she was finally free of his burdens and his unpredictable attitude, and he knew he couldn't just rope her back into a life with him. Not when he was unsure what he could commit to. Her friends never even knew they were together. If something between them formed again and they found out, he knew it would only be harder on Hermione. And he wouldn't put her through such pains.
"I overheard Astoria gloating about you the other day," Hermione continued, deciding it was safer to switch topics now. "I think she knew I was in the same café as her. She was going on and on about her expertise in the bedroom, and how she pleasured you. I'm pretty sure half the restaurant left because of her."
He scoffed, knowing he would've choked on his coffee had he been drinking just then. "Astoria doesn't hold a match compared to you."
They lapsed into silence again, and he knew he was pushing his luck. All she has wanted was some sort of assurance back then that there might be something more to come from this relationship. His sexual innuendoes couldn't possibly be helping his case.
Hermione sighed, wishing more than anything else that she could take back what happened. "You don't hold a candle to Oliver," she said quietly, drawing his attention. "He's so… vanilla compared to what you would do with me."
Now she had his utter attention. "And what kind of sex do you prefer Hermione?"
She smiled. "Sweet is lovely once in a while… but it's too bland for my expectations now. I think you may have done that to me. It's not the kind of sex I want to have though."
"And Wood won't satisfy that desire?"
"I asked him; he can't. Being so crude in bed makes him uncomfortable."
Draco laughed at that, amused by the revelation. "So what are you doing over here love? Are you really here to tell me to pep up and move on with my life?"
"Because you certainly don't seem to be moving on with yours."
She blushed, looking away from him for a long time. Draco sipped his coffee, reheating the beverage as he waited for a response.
"I'm good at acting," she finally said. "And for a long time now I've acted like Oliver is someone I can love. But he's not. He just isn't for me. And although I keep telling myself that this is a good idea and everything will work out, I have yet to feel an honest connection with him."
"You've done a good job fooling people."
"That was the point. My relationship with Oliver satisfies my friends overpowering need to ensure that I am happy, as if a relationship defines happiness. Oliver is happy to play along because he receives my affections, even if they aren't' genuine."
"And he knows you're making a fool of him?"
"He has to," she replied with a shrug. "In public I make sure that I dolt on him, that I play the part of a happy girlfriend. But behind closed doors I'm boring and we rarely speak. We fuck- and very, very rarely mind you- and then it's over. He's satisfied to keep up this hoax he's willingly playing along with, and I continue pretending that I'm elated with the situation."
"If you dislike him to such a degree then why waste your time with him?"
Hermione glanced away again, toying with her fingers. "He wants a future. I haven't told him that I don't see one with him yet. I guess I just can't crush his dreams like that."
The way I crushed yours. "And… does that mean you saw one with me, Granger?"
She cringed briefly at the mention of her last name, before sighing and meeting his eyes again. "Yes, I just don't know what sort of future anymore. I mean, it would have been hard once we decided to step out of a sex-only relationship. My friends would have learned the truth, and then all hell would break loose for both of us. At least in your case, the friends who matter already know."
"I suppose you're right."
"It would've caused a lot of pain and trouble," she mused. "I can understand yet another reason why you weren't interested in something more."
"No- and please, addressing me by my first name won't change anything- I know it's over. It wasn't worth working for. But we're both dwelling on the past Draco. We mutually let it go, and now we're wallowing in our decision. If this is what we decided together, then we must learn to live with it."
He said nothing, watching her with hooded eyes as she glanced away once more, her hands clenching together. She might be forcing the words out, but her emotions didn't seem to be completely on board with her decision. When he said nothing more she stood and left without a word, his eyes lingering on her frame the entire time as she went.
I'm a bloody idiot.
Downing the remainder of his coffee Draco chucked the cup into the trash, making a speedy exit of the establishment. Once outside he apparated away with a pop. He had things to attend to.
Draco didn't really care who was there when he flooed later. At worst Wood could listen to their conversation- if he could stomach it.
Upon arrival he noted immediately that Wood did not appear to be there. Hermione on the other hand was clearly someplace in her home, as her shoes were set beside the sofa and her wand sat on the table.
"Oliver," someone called, clearly exasperated. He stepped further into her apartment, leaning against the wall to hear what she would say. "Can't you just be patient? I told you earlier I wouldn't rush getting ready. Going to a crowded restaurant for everyone to oogle at us is not my cup of tea."
She appeared then, looking the other way as she fixed her earrings. Draco studied her outfit, watching the flowy skirt touch her knees. There was no tempting neckline, or really a hint of sex appeal. She was covered up, dressed in a boring navy blue dress, and she hadn't bothered to dawn more than flats. He raised a critical eyebrow as he surveyed her. Whenever they did go out on a date, she made it a point to tempt him with her outfits.
"Now how about we try to avoid a repeat of last time? You might think my modesty is completely gone after being with Draco, but I still won't fuck you in a public restroom. I mean really, how much worse-"
Hermione stopped talking when she turned around, noting the blond across from her. Her breath caught in her throat as she realized who she'd been talking to.
"Oh- Draco. I didn't realize it was you."
"I noticed," he replied, a gentle smirk pulling at his lips. "Maybe it's better that it's me. You didn't sound thrilled that Wood's was even coming over to see you."
"I'm not," she replied, glancing away. "I didn't really want to go on this date tonight."
"So I can tell," he continued, eyes darting over her covered frame as he approached. "I don't think I've ever seen that dress before."
"It's new. I bought it hoping it would turn Oliver off if I'm so covered. I don't think it's really done the trick."
He felt a pang of anger at her words, imagining the prick with his Hermione. She didn't seem elated by her current situation, and he assumed she was hiding something from him.
"You don't like his attentions?" he asked, fingers tracing over her arm as he finally neared her. He didn't miss the sharp intake of breath, nor how her body immediately flushed at his touch. "I guess you weren't exaggerating in the café yesterday. You aren't taken with him."
"Not at all," she grumbled, surprised how open she was being on the subject. "I thought in the beginning I might be, but I've never felt a connection."
He continued tracing her skin, fingers delicately stroking up and down her arm. He chanced his luck, straying on his path as his digits traveled upwards again, gently brushing over the side of her left breast. She gasped, eyes practically rolling into the back of her head.
"Obviously you haven't gotten proper attention," Draco mused.
She let her eyes fall closed a moment, his hand moving over to brush fully across her breast, pausing only to toy with the nipple. She gasped a second time, overcome by the sensation for a moment before she ripped herself away from the blond, staggering on her feet.
Catching herself with the counter, she watched the pained expression cross his face as she pulled away from him. Placing the island in her kitchen between them, she took a shaky breath and met his eyes.
"We can't do this Draco. I can't do this! I mean, I have a date coming in a little over twenty minutes."
"Do you really care?"
She groaned. "That isn't the point! You have to stop toying with my mind! You have no right to anymore. We broke up, okay? And we don't see eye to eye on what we want. You can't just stalk back into my life and act this way! You're messing with my emotions."
"And you're messing with mine," he growled. "I haven't pursued anyone since we broke up Granger. You've gone and thrown yourself at Wood, however."
"Because I thought it might help me get over you!" she cried, trembling slightly. Before she could defend herself against his words he was talking back.
"Ah, so you aren't over me then?"
"It's not like you're over me either! You wouldn't be here if you were."
"How can I possibly be over you when I never wanted to let you go," he seethed, his words silencing the both of them. She looked surprised by his words, eyes widening.
"You- you didn't want to let me go?"
He shrugged, seeming annoyed that he let that slip out. "No Hermione, never. But I couldn't give you what you needed, and we wanted very different things then. You wanted this to end Hermione- you forced the idea. I know you didn't want to be hurt, and you thought you would be the only one hurt when we parted. But you were wrong."
Her expression softened. "You've missed me?"
"Like hell. But you put up a good front. You wanted everyone to believe you're happy, and I've been foolish enough to believe you."
"You fell for it?"
"Stupidly," he grumbled. "I let you go because I knew then that I couldn't be who you needed me to be."
She sighed, studying him slowly. "And now?"
"The Draco Malfoy who seduced me months ago would not be this humble and caring. Obviously something has changed with you."
"Same with you. I mean, you're actually letting me have this conversation."
She stepped forward, grabbing his hands and kissing the knuckles lightly. "Do you want me back Draco?"
He groaned, closing his eyes as the soft contact sent jolts of energy through his body. "I've wanted you back since I left you go. But do you actually want to get with me Hermione? I've let you down before."
"I have a feeling you've had a change of heart."
Draco smiled softly, opening his eyes again. She was closer, closer than she had been since they parted ways. He extended his hand forward, soft fingers gingerly touching her skin, drawing a content sigh from her lips. He smirked, leaning forward. He would take his chances.
She responded to his kiss readily, her gasp all the acceptance he needed to pull her flush against him. Her arms wrapped instinctively around his neck, drawing him deeper into the kiss as he pushed her back against the counter. Draco could hardly believe that he let this go.
That's a mistake I'll never make again.
Her fingers tangle deep into his hair, and he let himself become lost to the feel of her there against his, kissing him just as feverishly as he was kissing her. The heat of her body did wonders to his own, toying with his fantasies about her. How he had missed having her so close.
Hermione gasped as he trained kissed from her mouth down her neck, fighting with the restrictive neckline of her dress. "Draco."
He hardly paid her any mind in that moment, completely lost in the moment. Her half-hearted pleas weren't doing anything to deter his attentions, and it took until she gently shoved him off to even draw his focus back to the present.
"Hmm?" the blond asked idly, gently massaging a path down her back. She groaned, before shoving his hands away.
"Draco, this is nice and all, but Oliver is going to arrive at any moment for our date. He doesn't know that we're together or anything, and he will flip if he finds you here. He'll think I've been cheating or something."
Clicking his tongue, he wondered briefly how anyone could pin Hermione as a cheater. She might be frisky, but her heart was still made of bloody gold. "Then we're going to have to deter him."
She blinked, puzzled. "Excuse me? What do you mean deter him? He's going to be bloody mad when he comes in. I'm sure the sight of you won't send him to the hills."
"I'm sure I can say a few choice things to him that will make him angry enough to leave," the blond replied, stroking her cheek tenderly. "The intrusion is going to delay us as it is. Why drag it out?"
Pulling his hands away she pointed towards her room. "Why don't you wait in there Draco. It'll only take me a few minutes to talk to him."
"And I'm not allowed to be here for it," he huffed.
"I think you will only add fuel to the fire," Hermione remarked dryly, pointing again. "Go on then, be scarce. It won't take long I promise."
Grumbling unhappily the tall man turned and wandered to her room, making it a point to leave her door open. He wanted to be able to hear, just in case Wood got rather rude. And besides, he wouldn't be shunned away and not listen in.
Upon entering her room he found himself distracted. He recalled the last time he slept with her, how it had been so much closer to lovemaking and so much less like the animalistic sex he was used to. He recalled how she felt under him, how she moaned his name with each long, terrible stroke. And he certainly remembered the morning after when he left her before she woke.
She looked beautiful, brown locks stretched across the pillows as she slept. Her lithe body hid beneath the sheets, which outlined her curves in such a perfect way. Draco could see the hard peaks of her nipples beneath the sheets as she rested, her arousal obvious in her lethargic body language as she dreamt on. He felt a pang in his chest as he left the unfamiliar bed, dragging himself from its comfort. He dearly wished he has gotten to know this bed more.
It was easy to leave before she woke. There would be no heartfelt goodbyes, no darts sent to his core as she shot down their chances of being together. He knew it was for the best- really, he did. They couldn't continue on in this fashion. Eventually the relationship would strain them both as they fought to keep it a secret from her friends and in the end if they wanted different things then it really wasn't worth the hassle.
Draco remained behind longer than he should, softly caressing the velvety smoothness of her cheeks, neck, shoulders… anywhere he could touch her without causing disturbance. Every ounce of his being begged him to stay and tell her he could become who she needed, because she had become what he desired. But he forced himself to leave once she began to stir, fearful of the conversations that might ensue.
His heart felt heavy as he left, knowing he was making a mistake. But it was a mistake that might benefit her in the long run, and overtime he had come to realize that he cared about her future and her happiness just as much as he did his own.
He paused only once at the door, turning back to see his witch still sleeping soundly. With a sigh, he looked at her one final time before muttering his unknown goodbye.
"I love you, Hermione Granger. No bloke will ever be as good to you as I could."
"What are you thinking about?" she asked, a kiss landing on his neck. Startled out of his memory, Draco glanced over his shoulder at the lovely witch, who smiled wider when he turned to face her fully.
"What did Woods say?" he asked, ignoring her question.
She shrugged, wrapping long arms around his shoulders. "He was unhappy to say the least, but he guessed that someone else was here because of my flushed complexion. I told him I wasn't cheating or anything, and I think he might have actually believed me. He did look discouraged and a little upset when I sent him away, however."
"Well he should be," Draco commented, brushing at her long locks. "He did just lose you."
Hermione smiled then, standing high on her toes to kiss him. Draco responded eagerly, pulling her back on her bed as they tumbled together, his mind working in overdrive to savior every fast-paced moment. He found he loved her before they said their goodbyes, and the emotion seemed to multiply tenfold as they lay together kissing.
Rolling them over, he fully intended to show her just how much he missed her. Maybe one day he would toughen up and really tell her how he felt about her- even use the 'L' word. But in that moment he was completely content to slowly unzip her dress, savoring every second he had with Hermione. Strange as it was, circumstances brought them together, and it was a set of circumstances that again brought them together after a break up. And Draco would not let his second chance slip idly away.